Here’s what we learned listening to Commune. which confirms the psychedelicists from Korpilombolo as the hottest sonic explorers in town.
The second studio album from the experimental Swedish band is the follow-up to their highly acclaimed 2012 debut.
It does, indeed. Although, to be fair, that town — in the Pajala Municipality, in Norrbotten County in the north of Sweden — contains only 529 inhabitants, and at least seven of those are in the band. Still, it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality, and even if more people lived there, we’re utterly convinced they’d still be the best.
They’re obsessed with goats.
True, there are tracks on this album entitled Goatchild and Goatslaves, while its predecessor, 2012’s World Music, includes not just Goatman and Goathead but Goatlord as well. Why? Possibly because the goat is a symbol of satanic ritual, of the dark side, of rock and pop’s identification with all things culty, with shamanic practice and quasi-religious fervour involving the animalistic quality of human expression and endeavour. Or possibly because they're cooler than sheep.
Horn-rimmed creatures aside, the music rocks.
It rocks, and it psychs, and it funks — often at the same time. Talk To God is heavily percussive and features the vocals of an anonymous female singer — well, all the members are anonymous, probably to heighten the sense of a collective whose will is subsumed for maximum ecstatic effect (or something) — who sounds like Grace Slick shrieking her way down Haight-Ashbury in 1968. And that chap plucking the stringed instrument? Night after night, he treats you right, baby, he’s the sitar man.
And that’s just the opening track. The others are every bit as good.
Words is like kosmische music if it had been invented five years earlier: pure freakbeat meets krautrock. It opens with the ominous drum-beat of the Stones’ Paint It Black before acceding to three minutes of hypnotic drone-rock. The Light Within features a Santana-esque guitar motif and menacing caterwauls. Goatchild sounds like The Troggs jamming with The Doors. At WOMAD in 1968. With Frank Zappa on lead snide vocals, that makes you question the sincerity of the venture - are these guys serious? Or mocking the very notion of orgiastic bliss-out? By Goatslaves, you don’t care either way: it proclaims the glory of “the spirit world” over fabulous funkadelic rock. Bondye is LSD-lightful: get your wah-wahs out, people. Gathering Of Ancient Tribes finds the lead female singer making like Siouxsie Sioux as she invokes “the eye of the storm”. On To Travel The Path Unknown our heroes declare: “There is only one aim in life, and that is to be a positive force in the constant evolution of creation”. They could be talking about themselves.
And it’s all over so soon!
Weirdly, Commune appears to go on forever, in the best possible way - once you step inside Goat’s house, you relinquish all sense of time — and yet there are only 10 tracks, and the album “only” lasts 46 minutes. Some might feel Commune offers too pat a series of psych sounds and signifiers. But for those captured by their spell, try putting it on repeat for 46 hours… Altogether now: “Clap along if you feel like a room without a hoof!”